Leslie P. Schultz, who helped USLICO Corp. of Arlington become one of the nation's largest insurance and financial services organizations, yesterday said he is leaving his post as the company's chief executive.

Schultz, 69, will remain as chairman, but will be replaced as CEO by his close associate of 21 years, Charles V. Giuffra, 58, who will take over the company's daily operations Jan. 1.

"There comes a time when you have to move on," Schultz said yesterday, commenting on what he called "an orderly transition" that was set in motion three years ago.

"I'll be 70 in June of 1988, and I've been in this business for 50 years. Father Time moves on and, besides, I like to play golf," Schultz said.

Giuffra, who became president of USLICO in 1986 and last year was promoted to president and chief operating officer, yesterday said there will be no major changes of corporate direction when he becomes CEO.

During the past several years, USLICO has been "following a clear path of growth" marked by expanding sales and the acquisition of compatible companies, Giuffra said.

That strategy is paying off, he said.

USLICO had third-quarter operating earnings of $6.3 million (62 cents a share), a 97 percent gain over the $3.2 million (33 cents) in operating profit in the year-earlier period.

USLICO's year-to-date operating earnings total $20.5 million ($1.82), compared with $16.5 million ($1.47) for the same period last year.

USLICO is a holding company for five life insurance companies, including United States Life Insurance Co.; two financial service subsidiaries; and International Bank, a holding company with property and casualty subsidiaries, overseas banking operations and real estate investments.

The company last year moved its headquarters from the District to larger facilities in Arlington.